Covering Edgar Castillo

Edgar Castillo was was ignored by Bruce Arena after falling through the cracks of the US Developmental system now says he may take advantage of a new FIFA rule allowing a shift in country even if you’ve been previously capped in a non competitive (ie. friendly) match. Castillo, a left back has been capped three times for Mexico.

When I was with the Champions Soccer Radio Network, Castillo was a frequent subject of discussion. At the time he was starting regularly for Santos Laguna and seemed to have a great national team career ahead of him. My colleague Peter Brown had struck up a great relationship with his father who had nothing but scorn for the US system.

Growing up in New Mexico Castillo was off the radar of the USSF. Like many Mexican-American kids the opportunity to develop and play the game at a high level was much greater south of the border than in their hometowns. Even once Castillo developed Bruce Arena had little interest in the player.

Once Bob Bradley became the US manager he showed greater interest and understanding of the quality Castillo could bring to the US team. But the decision had already been made by the player to pursue a career with Mexico. At the time Hugo Sanchez, El Tri’s manager and legendary player had big plans for Castillo even though he had gotten the job partly by demagoging Ricardo LaVolpe’s willingness ot use foreign born players. Of course foreign born to Sanchez meant non Mexican players, like Zinha and Guille Frnaco who were naturalized, not those with Mexican blood born abroad.

When Sven Goran Eriksson became manager, he failed to pick Castillo for second round qualifying against Belize. Since then Castillo’s club career has hit the rocks and his national team career while still active is headed nowhere under Javier Aguirre. Thus given the respect shown to him by Bob Bradley which was not afforded by Bruce Arena, it’s little surprise to me that Castillo wants to switch national teams under FIFA’s new rule.

For all of Bob Bradley’s perceived shortcomings as US manager, Bradley himself has been responsible for finding Americans eligible to play for the US and another national team in a manner Arena did not, and reaching to find young players who didn’t go through the traditional channels of development. Irrespective of what you think about Bob Bradley’s tactical acumen, as an actual overseer of the national team program he is a huge upgrade over Bruce Arena.